By: Erica Gellert
I wish I went to more concerts. I spend a lot of time these days (as I’m sure you do too) thinking of what I wish I did more of when we were able to do anything at all.
Concerts and live music are something that creeps up to the top of my list often. It should be noted I rarely went to concerts at all, maybe two a year at most. Living in a place like Toronto, big bands are here all the time! So when your favorite artist is in town and you can’t make it- you don’t really get hung up on it since you’ll probably have another chance to catch them again soon, and I’d comfort myself with this thought for years. I’d think to myself, “Oh, so-and-so is in town next month? That show would be awesome, I gotta go. Okay, time to get a ticket. Shit, half sold out? Okay, payday is this week. The concert’s tomorrow night. It’s like $100 for the worst seat in the house? I’ll just catch them next time,” then “next time” would come around, and the same process would unfold. I was consistently in the mindset that it cost too much money, or I wouldn’t have anyone to go with, which would cause enough anxiety for me to just drop the whole thing, and that bums me out.
Especially now when there’s not much I wouldn’t do to be able to go to a concert, any concert. Even if I was alone, broke, or both.
There was one time I did go to a concert alone, and it was an absolute blast. I bought a ticket to the Strumbellas one December night after their album “Hope” came out and I was stoked to see them live. All of my friends had already gone home for the holidays, so I didn’t waste time asking around who wanted to join me- plus? I kind of wanted to go stag. I felt really “adult” about it.
The ticket I purchased said to go to the Danforth Music Hall for 4 pm, which I thought was weird, but I rarely went to concerts so I didn’t overthink it. I show up around 3 pm (it was General Admission and I wanted a good spot) and I started to wonder if I was at the right place because there wasn't a single soul in the line with me. Correction: there were people there, they just weren’t… my age. I was thinking how it was strange that there were so many families out on the Danforth walking with strollers and children under eight in tow, but then they kept stopping and slowly lining up in front of the Hall. Panicked, I check my ticket, “Strumbellas, Danforth Music Hall” it said. Then, in a smaller font, “Family Friendly Matinee”. It legitimately took every muscle in my body to keep me from yelling "FUCK" in front of a crowd of toddlers and their hipster parents.
After realizing my mistake was actually quite funny, and more importantly, that the bar was open, I bought a beer bigger than the kid in front of me and made my way to the front of the stage. I didn’t have a problem seeing anything and felt no shame blocking a full class of third graders standing behind me. At one point I tweeted at the band about my mistake, and to my surprise, the band’s keyboard player, Dave Ritter, took a moment to read this tweet out loud to everyone.
I waved and shouted “THAT WAS ME, I’M HERE!!!!” because listen, I was probably a little drunk at that point. Everyone in the crowd (who was a legal adult) cheers'd me in the air, beer sloshed on the ground, surely splashing into the mouths of a few lucky children, and it felt like we were all old friends. Then, we continued singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer because again, we were at a fucking kids show.
After that experience, something changed. Maybe I didn’t have the budget for a solo night at the Air Canada Centre once a month, but I couldn’t deny a few nights at a dodgy bar that featured either a tragic open mic or a hidden gem bluegrass band (shoutout to The Local and the Hamstrung String Band).
I once braved the Horseshoe Tavern by myself to see my buddies The Honest Heart Collective play, and ended up meeting a music and beer blogger (my type of lady) who introduced me to The Elwins (great guys), pointed out that the Glorious Sons were standing a few feet in front of me, and entertained my drunken spiel about how “I do comedy, but love music, and wanna like, marry the two worlds together somehow, you know!??” I remember getting home that night thinking that I could get used to this. That was last February, right before- well, you know.
I miss so much about The Before times, but more often than not I find myself aching for a night at a place that either resembles a Legion Hall or straight up is one, waiting for whatever band Blog TO said would be playing that night. One time I caught a random blues band and made friends with a group of women who were in their 70’s, one in her 90’s, who would get together and go see live music somewhere in the city once every month. They were inspiring to say the least and had the best stories. Plus, the 90-year-old could dance (and drink- holy shit.)
I cannot wait till it’s okay to put my arm around a couple of seniors again, and more to the point, see live music. So when we get out of this, because we will get out of this, invite me to your band's show. I’ll be the one in the front loving every minute.